McDonald’s Re-Gifts A Burger

Reader Joel and his girlfriend ended up going through a McDonald’s Drive-thru in San Antonio, TX on Christmas, and they must have been naughty because McDonald’s re-gifted their burger. After completing the drive-thru transaction and checking their order, Joel and his girlfriend noticed their burgers were wrong. He’d ordered no pickles, she’d ordered cheese. After the first bite was taken, it became painfully clear the cheese had been forgotten. From Joel’s email:

    We turn around, go through the drive thru again, get up to the window and let them know that they forgot the cheese on her burger, and my two burgers (with a sticker and tag saying “double cheeseburger w/o pickles” on them) had pickles.
    I inform her that I’ll just pick the pickles off… But we need cheese. A minute passes and she proceeds to hand me a chicken mcnugget box. I seeing it and being confused said, no, we ordered a home style burger with CHEESE. She said, yeah, here’s the cheese.

Yes, they handed Joel some cheese in a box. Joel, being a sane person, refused cheese in a box. “I handed her the box of cheese, and the one bite missing burger, and asked if you could please remake it…Another minute passes, the lady comes back and hands me a very very hot box with a Home style burger in it, I hand it to the girlfriend and …She opened the box and guess what! It’s her exact same burger! With the bite missing. What they did was take the spare piece of cheese, slap it on the burger, and nuke it for about a minute.”

This McDonald’s microwaved her partially eaten burger without removing the lettuce, then gave it back to her. Ew! Ew! Ew! Ew! Joel and his girlfriend are returning to the McDonald’s today to speak to a manager. Ew!—MEGHANN MARCO

Joel’s full email inside.

Joel writes:


    This all happened on Christmas. My girlfriend, and I were leaving her house to go see more family for the holiday. It was around 4pm, and we were a bit hungry. So on the way we figured we would stop by the McDonald’s at 25200 W IH 10 San Antonio TX, 78257. Christmas morning was pretty good, but the afternoon was starting to go downhill. Her dad had to go to the ER because he was ill (He’s better now, no worries), Christmas dinner was canceled (The turkey was still frozen), Grandma was sick. Just not good.

    Well we pull into the drive thru, get to the box and place our order. A home style burger meal, with CHEESE, large size, with a coke to drink. And two double cheeseburgers, with no pickles. Our order is taken, repeated back correctly, and we drive forward to the last window.

    We get there, my girlfriend has the exact change out and ready, and we wait. As I pulled up I watched the lady who was manning the drive through cove window box thingy walk over to another co-worker, chit chat for a few seconds, and wonder off somewhere in the dining area (which was closed for the Holiday) About 5 minutes later she returns, messes around with the drink order for a good minute, then does the first annoying thing. As she opens the window she can see my window is open, and I have money being held out for her. She then proceeds to hand me the drink. This is minor, but still annoying. We do the exchange without dropping anything luckily. She hands us our bag of food, and off we go.

    I slowly pull away as my girlfriend checks the bag to make sure items are accounted for. They are all there so we continue off the property. We get less than 500 feet away when I have one of my double cheeseburgers open and realize that it has pickles. Then thats when my girlfriend takes a bite of hers and realizes there is no cheese. We turn around, go through the drive thru again, get up to the window and let them know that they forgot the cheese on her burger, and my two burgers (with a sticker and tag saying “double cheeseburger w/o pickles” on them) had pickles.

    I inform her that I’ll just pick the pickles off. That’s why I order it that way, so not to waste pickles, and so I don’t have to get messy taking them off, but no biggie. But we need cheese. A minute passes and she proceeds to hand me a chicken mcnugget box. I seeing it and being confused said, no, we ordered a home style burger with CHEESE. She said, yeah, here’s the cheese.

    They wanted to hand us a piece of cheese in a box? The lady said that thats what she was told to give us. Seemed to me like the manager on duty was the one who said it and she was following orders. Poor girl.

    The point of going to a resturaunt of any kind is so you don’t have to make your own food. So this was very stupid to me. I handed her the box of cheese, and the one bite missing burger, and asked if you could please remake it. And my girlfriend asked as well to make it so the cheese would be on it and melt properly on the burger like if you ordered fresh, you know?

    Another minute passes, the lady comes back and hands me a very very hot box with a Home style burger in it, I hand it to the girlfriend and pull forward so we can get going (by this time we were running late to a previous engagement)

    She opened the box and guess what! It’s her exact same burger! With the bite missing. What they did was take the spare piece of cheese, slap it on the burger, and nuke it for about a minute to the point where it was piping hot and to hot to eat. Also without removing the lettuce, or tomato, or pickles, so the lettuce was wilted, everything was just crap.

    But being late and not having time to go through a third time we had to speed off unhappy and quite annoyed. Tomorrow we will be calling there or stopping by to speak to a manager.

    Anyways, thanks McDonald’s for re gifting our burger.

    Thanks Consumerist for being awesome.

    Happy Holidays!


Edit Your Comment

  1. Hold the spit… it’s for a cop…

  2. Thom says:

    I’d like a liter of Cola….

    Just get a large, Farva

    I don’t want a large Farva I want a liter of cola

  3. saikofish says:

    Obviously that’s a manager who doesn’t like waste. Other than the missing cheese, it’s still a perfectly edible burger, and there are starving children in Africa, etc.!

  4. acambras says:

    Yeah, think of all those poor people out there with low cholesterol.

  5. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    This is why I don’t order food “my way” at any of these fast food places. If you start ordering food that isn’t standard on the visual burger assembly chart that they use, then you’re more likely to get something you didn’t order. And you’re more likely to wait longer for them to make it.

    Also, if they screw up your order, don’t go through the drive-thru again. Park, get out of your car, go inside, and head for the register. From all the times I’ve been to McDonald’s there’s always some sort of manager up front. And they take care of these things fairly quickly.

  6. jacques says:

    I guess I’m not missing anything for having not eaten there since the late 90s when I found out they were putting beef in their fries. The whole company can go to hell as far as I’m concerned

  7. Namrepus says:

    I used to work at a McDonalds, and yes I’d been asked by managers to “re-gift” a burger with cheese on it and no one really compained about it.

    Honestly what really got my goat was the people that ordered their food then decided/forgot that they wanted it special. I recall one guy that ordered a chicken sandwich (One of those premium deals) I’m half way through making it when I get yelled back to me that the customer doesn’t want mayo on it. I just finish the sandwich as normal, the customer can wipe it off for all I care. If it wasn’t on the order, I didn’t do it.

    The sandwich comes back after a minute, the manager says “He’s allergic to Mayo, he can’t just wipe it off” and I have to remake it. I’m sorry but if you didn’t order it originally like that, I’m going to make the sandwich the way it was ordered at the time.

    • ShizaMinelli says:

      @Namrepus: Ooh…how rebellious. You do realize that it is your job to make it to the customer’s order, right, regardless of when a request was made?

  8. The Unicorn says:

    In addition to the grossness/bad customer service aspects of this story, I’m actually pretty sure that fast-food places/restaurants/etc. are specifically forbidden from taking food “back over the counter” once it’s been handed out. I know that it was a health code violation when I worked in a sub shop, & it certainly makes sense that it would be universally banned. So there were just bad ideas flying around left & right at this McDonald’s.

    On a completely different note, has anyone else heard a regular McD’s burger referred to as a “home style” burger before? I’m not trying to hate on the submitter’s language or anything; it’s just not something I’ve encountered before & I’m curious whether or not it’s a regional thing.

  9. acambras says:

    They should copy their letter to McDonalds people beyond that particular location. Sometimes a number of restaurants in one area will be owned by one local or regional company. And I think corporate people might want to know when franchisees are doing bad things.

    I would copy the letter to:
    The general manager
    The local owner or franchisee
    McDonald’s corporate office
    The county or state health inspector

  10. HawkWolf says:

    if you’re going to have picky-ass complaints about what you do and don’t want on your food, don’t go to a fast food restaurant where people are paid 7 dollars an hour to prepare your pre-cooked ingredients following a picture chart.

    I’m serious. I hate people who go somewhere, order something ridiculous like ‘only two pickle slices and mayo on half’ and then whine when they get it wrong.

    Qdoba, subway, or similar assembly-line places: no excuses, you should get exactly what you order when you order it. (qdoba always screws up stuff like, ‘chicken or steak?’… I say chicken, they put steak on it. WTF? I just said chicken, did you not hear me?)

    Pizza: it’s a pain to get the wrong toppings, and half sausage/half pepperoni’s unfortunately a reality, because one Pizza serves multiple people

    Mcd’s/wendy’s/etc: order the damn #2 and be glad you don’t die of something when you eat it.

    grouse grouse grouse grouse

    • ShizaMinelli says:

      @HawkWolf: If they are paying for the food, they deserve what they are asking for. The wages of employees, which are beyond a customer’s control, are irrelevant.

  11. synergy says:

    I thought this was ok since it was a perfectly ok burger, other than the hot lettuce because that’s never tasty. But then I read the comment about taking an item back behind the counter and that makes sense. Especially with a big bite in it? I hope that it was left in its wrapper and the person fixing it changed their gloves before handling anything else. The mouth is a very dirty place, mouthwash or not, and that bite was probably full of bacteria. Well, more than was already in the beef when the cow was slaughtered. :-p

    McDonald’s just sucks, though. I’m with jacques on that score.

  12. acambras says:

    Hawkwolf, they ordered items “with cheese” or “without pickles” — that is NOT ridiculous (like the items you cited in your second paragraph).

  13. The sandwich comes back after a minute, the manager says “He’s allergic to Mayo, he can’t just wipe it off” and I have to remake it. I’m sorry but if you didn’t order it originally like that, I’m going to make the sandwich the way it was ordered at the time.

    Well all you did was waste McDonald’s food and your own time. What, are you being inefficient on principle?

    On a completely different note, has anyone else heard a regular McD’s burger referred to as a “home style” burger before?

    I think something similar was mentioned in the movie Supersize Me.

    My sister used to work in a Subway and she once had to remake a sub because the customer forgot to ask for condiments (I don’t understand how that happens when you’re watching them make your food: the woman left and came back) and she couldn’t just add the mustard. It seems to me if you have to start all over for mustard you definitely have to start all over for cheese.

  14. Papa K says:

    Here’s the jist – I, too, used to work in fast food. And ‘regifting’ was something seldom done, but it happened. As with some kids my friends and I actually took pride at doing a kick-ass job at our crap-ass job (what happened to those days with kids today?). Of course, occasionally we had to re-gift burgers, but this was generally adding cheese to a burger (and that burger was under the heat lamp – get rid of the old so we weren’t wasting food). It wasn’t something we hid, either. Some people didn’t care, some people did.

    Point being, if you aren’t happy, let them know in a kind manner and be expected to wait for it. And remember, don’t insult the cook. He/She is the only person who really knows what’s going on with your food.

  15. acambras says:

    Somewhere out there, Joanna (formerly from the Walker, LA McD’s) is probably laughing.

    Maybe she’s in San Antonio.

  16. synergy says:

    $7/hr? Where is this, on one of the coasts? I’m pretty sure they pay fast food employees minimum wage around here in Texas. That’s $5.15, same as the federal minimum wage.

  17. acambras says:

    Minimum wage is about $7+ here in Connecticut, but housing is also a helluva lot more expensive.

  18. Papercutninja says:

    Did you not get cheese on your burger? Here’s a slice of cheese. Wait, what? You won’t put it on yourself? Spoiled brat.

    I think that the giving of the cheese in a box is acceptable for the circumstances. Yes, you are supposed to get what you pay for, but this IS McDonalds, not (insert fancy restaurant name). They shouldn’t be taking partially eaten food behind the register AT ALL. Should they have given you a new burger? Maybe. But is putting the cheese on the burger yourself such a problem?

    Also, if McDonald’s is in ANY WAY “home-style” to you, then you have a lot more problems than a re-used burger.

  19. North of 49 says:

    Ms. No49 has had a hate on for Mcds ever since she had a flurry that had a yellow E beed in it that shattered one of her teeth. Mcds never did bother to actually fix it and she probably should have sued. I sense a letter forthcoming from her.
    Mr. No49 has had the same hate on but for a different reason – a filthy kids area where the boy slipped, fell and badly hurt himself. If kids are required to run around those play areas in socks, then they better damn well make sure the place is safe.
    Ms. No49 has called up head office in Toronto to complain on several occasions. She gives them three chances to make the meal a pleasureable experience. If they make three mistakes, and a filthy play area is one, she complains to head office and skips the local management. Ms. No49 is also a secret shopper who really wishes her agency did McDs. They have since switched to Burger King simply because the service etc has been better there.

  20. pulguitapicosa says:

    I used to work at a Burger King and it was a company policy not to take food back to the kitchen. We had to throw away any reject and start from scratch, but some time we did take it back and some employes overheat it food on purpose (not me). And if you are going back to talk to a manager make sure is in the morning or afternoon and a weekday so the store manager is there, because most of the managers at these restaurants are teenagers or they just don’t really care. and i was payed 5.15.

  21. Youthier says:

    Joel is definately in the right on this one. Asking for cheese on one’s burger is not a “speciality order”. It’s a specific menu option.

    I agree with bigdreamer that they probably could have gone back around and asked them to remake it completely and been accomodated but the frustration is understandable.

    And I disagree with those who think they should have put on their own cheese. Who wants a slab of cold American cheese on their burger?

  22. B says:

    Yea, to hell with these people expecting to get what they ordered at McDs. If they wanted good service, they should have gone to the place in NYC that sells Mac and Cheese for 50 dollars.

  23. Hmm. I’ve never had any issues with having ‘no pickles, no onions’, when I order a Happy Meal at McD’s.

    [Yes, I eat Happy Meals when I have a hankerin’ for prcoessed junk food. The Happy Meal is a perfect portion of McFood, so you don’t get McHuge].

  24. Sheik says:

    missbrooke, I doubt that cold cheese would have made a McDs burger any better, but it sure wouldn’t make it any worse. simply by going to McDs you are conceding that you are not actually concerned with getting food that taste good and are settling with the bare minimum as far as even being able to call it food.

  25. acambras says:

    So Sheik — people who go to McDonald’s deserve to get shitty service because they obviously have bad taste in food?


  26. Musician78 says:

    I don’t care if this is McDonalds or not, if I am going to frequent the establishment, and use my money in trade for their product, I want it made correctly. There is no excuse for handing the cheese over in a box. Remake the thing that you messed up in the first place.

    I get so pissed. If these people can’t even make a simple burger what the hell else are they going to do in life? It isn’t rocket science.

    Although, I am the first to say that I NEVER send food back. You never know what kind of teenage punk they have cooking the food.

    I was a cook for 3 years in a nice restaurant, and although I never messed with anyone’s food (if I fucked up, I fixed it), I had heard other stories of other cooks messing with food.

    Either which way, the bottom line is that this dude was not out of line in the least expecting a new burger, McDonalds or Outback; doesn’t matter.


  27. Gopher bond says:

    I really can’t understand the whole not being able to eat fast food because it’s not “exactly” the way it was ordered. If I didn’t get cheese then I just eat a regular hamburger. I don’t think I ever even check.

    But I suppose you have a right to demand that sort of thing. An ex-co-worker would always (and I mean always) send at least one thing back to the kitchen everytime the office went out for lunch. And she never ordered something on the menu always a combination. “I want the chicken cordon bleu, but I want the side dishes that come with the turkey dinner, and I don’t want cheese on any of that at all, and I want no ice in my R/C cola, and I want thick french fries, if they aren’t think, then I want onion rings, but not with the regular sauce, I want the sauce that come with the curly fries, and I don’t want the dinner rolls, I want the rolls that some with the lunch buffett.”

    After every meal I’d tell her, “I’ll bet you $20 someone spit in your food.”

  28. Gopher bond says:

    Is it out of line? No. Do you stand a better than average chance of getting a burger back that’s been wiped through the buttocks of teenagers? Yes.

    Sometimes you need to pick your battles.

  29. Musician78 says:

    Some people are extremely picky eaters. Like myself. I LOVE cheeseburgers, but if you take the cheese off it, to me, it turns into a nasty hunk of meat.

  30. robrob says:

    Holy crap, someone got subpar serverice and a questionable product at McDonalds? Quick, better write a 1200 word essay for the blogosphere, email corporate, and fax a copy to my congressman!

    There is nothing wrong with getting what you want at mcdonalds, but this seems like an awful lot of drama when i can think of several much more immediate and logical ways to remedy the problem like a regular functioning, well adjusted adult ;)

    As an aside, when i was a young dumb skate kid in the early 90s, I went to a subway and placed my order, without onions. AS I was filling my drink, the “sandwich artist” filled my sub up with onions. I went to my table, had a bite, and politely went up and asked for one without onions. She told me to pick it off and refused to make a new one. I go back to my table, which was around a corner and out of eyesite and proceeded to splatter that sub al over the table, walls, ceiling and floor, before finally taking a Sharpie and scrawling PICK IT OFF!!!!! in permenent marker.

    ahh. memories. juvenile and destructive? sure. but i dunno, in many ways preferably to passive rambling ;)

  31. Musician78 says:

    That right there is what I am talking about. I hate onions. And when something has onions on it, it will always taste like onion. Taking them off will not help, no matter how quickly they get taken off.

  32. Wow, I always order “cheeseburger, ketchup only” and of the hundreds (sadly) of burgers I’ve ordered at McFood, they’ve only ever done one wrong (no cheese! just the ketchup!) and replaced it in all of 30 seconds.

    They do always give me mass quantities of ketchup, though, as if they feel bad I’m not getting other condiments.

  33. non-meat-stick says:

    garbage in garbage out is a good motto. $5.15/hour in MN for min wage.

    Just stop eating at Mc Donalds, it’s disgusting

  34. Youthier says:

    robrob, I can’t imagine someone refusing to remake. Back when I worked at the ol’ 31 Flavors, at least twice a week I would get the complaint that there was glass in someone’s ice cream. Amazingly, it was always ice but I alway rescooped the ice cream and sent the customer on their way. Why? Because it’s just easier.

  35. latemodel says:

    I had a similar experience only I watched the MANAGER, who was working the register, pull the ham off my mcmuffin with her bare hands and replace it with the sausage that I had asked her for originally. I watched her do it and when I asked for a new item she just stood there and looked at me like I was speaking another language. I finally just asked for a refund and was told that they dont give refunds unless the food is “bad” so I guess I would have had to take a bite and then ask. I just left. I complained to the McDs corporate site and the response was that all stores are franchises and they have no control over them. That was about 5 years ago and I have not been in a McDs since so I guess I should be thanking them. Ironical.

  36. acambras says:

    Latemodel —

    Ewww. Too bad you didn’t get it on video and send it to the health department. Or the local news — they love that stuff.

    BTW, I would think that McDonalds franchisees would have to follow special rules to ensure their products (and delivery thereof) are up to McDs “standards” (whatever those may be). Sure, their stores may be franchises, but a Big Mac tastes the same wherever you go (in the U.S., anyway). It seems to me that if a franchisee were doing something really egregious (like violating health codes), McD’s could pull their franchise rights. But IANAL.

  37. Mike_ says:

    This is almost definitely a health code violation. From the FDA Food Code (used as a model by local, state and federal regulators to develop their own rules):

    3-306.14 Returned Food and Re-Service of Food

    … after being served or sold and in the possession of a consumer, food that is unused or returned by the consumer may not be offered as food for human consumption.

    Source: (PDF – pops), more here.

    This is the basis for the rule that should be familiar to all food service employees: Once it crosses the counter, it can’t come back. If a restaurant gets your order wrong, they can’t change it. They have to re-make it.

    Reject food that has crossed the counter more than once. If you fear retribution, don’t ask the food to be re-made. Demand a refund. If they resist, speak to a manager, and don’t be afraid to play the “Health Department” card. After all, this is Food Safety 101.

  38. Michael says:

    For those of you suggesting that one should just be happy with what one gets, perhaps you should be reminded that to add melty cheese to a home-style burger costs extra. At the very LEAST, someone who pays extra for cheese out to receive a refund for what was not properly delivered, even if content to settle for less than was expected.

  39. juri squared says:

    Yikes. People, you need to remember that it doesn’t matter whether it’s McD’s or a five-star restaurant, the employees violated FDA rules, company policy, and was rude to boot.

    The OP is well within their rights to be upset. Besides, if McD’s allows special orders, and they make a special order, they should expect to recieve exactly what they ordered. “No pickles” and “cheese” are not exactly crazy, out-there requests.

  40. Gopher bond says:

    Look, no, of course it’s not crazy or anal to expect to receive something you requested and paid for in the manner you specified.

    But you picky eaters must like eating boogers and loogies and butt-cheese because guess what, you are.

    I would imagine fast food places have a higher percentage of workers that would taint food in such a manner. Not that it doesn’t happen in nicer restaurants (it does) just more likely to happen at a fast food place.

    And the best possible outcome of complaining is that you get your crappy food the way you ordered. Christ on a cracker.

  41. Musician78 says:

    I don’t think that I am eating that crap. I may be picky, but not a royal pain in the ass. I ask for no pickles or onions. That is it. Plus, I don’t order things that are premade sitting around under heat lamps. So what I order, they have to make it. At the very least, I am saving some young (probably) slacker from doing more work.

    If my order is wrong, I deal with it. But if other people want to have the balls to piss off the makers of their food, then more power to them. That is not me though. Because I don’t want my food fucked with.

  42. SassyLassy says:

    Someone doesn’t need cheese on something that is unhealthy anyways. Making a new burger with a slice of cheese at McDonalds isn’t going to be any different than slapping on the cheese on the once-bitten burger. The cheese is gross anyways.

  43. Gopher bond says:

    Oh I eat fast food and all. I generally picture Big Mac and fries when I think fast food and I don’t have any qualms about calling that crap and eating it with a grin. But I admit you can get good and relatively healthy fast food which I would not consider crap.

    I also never send food back. I sent back a drink once because it had a broken bottom of another glass at the bottom. I assume that if there’s something majorly wrong like that everyone will understand. If you send a drink back because it has an odd number of ice cubes you’ll get it back with an odd number of boogers in it.

  44. Okay, to clear up a few things:

    It was Christmas day, I could not get in to talk to a manager.

    In Texas they have a “HomeStyle” burger on the menu, it’s what it is called. It comes without cheese by default.

    I was not being picky. If I was going to be picky I would have had them remake my double cheeseburgers with out pickles like I ordered them. But Cheese is a standard addition. Thats why they charge extra for it. Since I paid extra for it that’s why I went back. Since we were in the car driving, and had to eat en route to our destination, preparing a burger in the car was what we weren’t really wanting to do.

    I understand everyones complaint about ordering Just two pickles and 3 onions slices and 1oz of ketchup to be weighed by a electronic scale calibrated by NASA are ridiculous. Apparently missing the two points. Cheese is on the menu. You add cheese. Usually for almost 50 cents extra. For a customer requesting to ADD CHEESE is not ridiculous.

    I spoke to a manager at the location, the apologized and said they would look into it. Which is fine for me, it was just extra cheese.

    By the way, I love this site, but if you think this is ridiculous, then why would anyone at The Consumerist bother posting about it? I was just sharing my story like many others. Sheesh.

  45. acambras says:

    Joel, I think some people misused your post as a forum to express their feelings about picky eaters. I (and many others) do not think you were being picky to request the cheese you asked and paid for.

    What really galls me about your experience is that the McD’s workers treated you very poorly. First, they hand you your cheese in a box, which is pretty unceremonious and tacky of them. THEN they had the audacity to “regift” your burger, which is probably a flagrant violation of health codes in most if not all 50 states.

    One nice thing that came out of this is that most readers probably know what to do if that sort of thing ever happens to them. A lot of times when I’ve experienced terrible customer service, I’ve been shocked and haven’t known what to say or do. We Consumeristas know that if we’re paying good money for a product or service, there’s no reason to put up with sucky customer “service.”

    Thanks for sharing your story.